Life as an Extreme Sport

To Affect and Be Affected

Have you ever poked a sea anemone? It’s open and fluttering its little tendrils in the brackish water, and then suddenly and without any warning, this stick comes out of nowhere, jabbing into its soft, fleshy bits. The anemone reacts, without thinking – it curls in on itself, pulling tight and protective. After a while, it might send out a few questioning tentacles at a time, searching and seeing if it’s safe again. And when it’s determined that it is safe, it will unfurl again, until the next stick descends. This is affect at its simplest, an emotive, embodied response to stimulus. It is “the modifications of the body by which the power of acting of the body itself is increased, diminished, helped or hindered, together with the ideas of these modifications.”Spinoza, Baruch. Ethics. Hafner Press, New York; 1949 That is to say, according to Baruch Spinoza, affect is the

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Puzzle Prompt

Oh dear. I’d forgotten that Parrington has wireless. It’s probably a good thing I’m (re)discovering this at the end of the quarter. Today Karen has asked us (the CHID thesis class) to spend five minutes writing about something that is puzzling us with our thesis. So, naturally, I first check email, then LJ, reply to a LJ comment – oh shit, nothing left to do to look busy. Guess I’ll try to tackle the topic. The puzzle. See, the thing is, I haven’t really been working on my thesis so much this quarter. I’ve spent some time on affect, and a lot of time at the beginning simply fleshing out my general ideas. But things keep getting pushed back in favour of other, more immediate things – 390, conference preparation, other classes, a social life. I find the thesis slipping to the back, and then I find myself wondering: is

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Morning

Up early today. I fell asleep before 9pm last night, just physically drained and exhausted. The 390 focus group went much better last night, using pop culture “props” to drive conversation. I’m strongly resisting the urge to make lesson plans and powerpoints, because I don’t want to (nor should I) be the teacher for that class. But, having things to make conversation go is nice. Bride and Prejudice is a wonderfully over-the-top way to illustrate Orientalism, too. But, true to form, I crashed off the feeling good by the time I was halfway home. I hadn’t eaten lunch, so stopped to get dinner, and it was just downhill from there. I knocked together the very barest annotated bibliography, (which I will hopefully be able to flesh out some before class today. I also need to print copies of the papers for today’s thesis class, as well as reread an article

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Progress

I’ve discovered the oddest thing – if I read something complex aloud, I’ll have a much better chance of understanding it. I think it has to do with levels of engagement; I have to put more of myself into something if I’m reading it as well as listening to myself, and it activates different areas of the brain. It makes sense, since I’ve always learned well via lecture. The end result of that discovery is that I was able to engage with the intimidating paper on a level that I’m happy with; I found structural issues to comment on, and did so in a manner that doesn’t have me looking like a simpleton. But man, after looking through all the papers I’ve graded this week, lemme just reinforce what a good thing it is I don’t use red ink. (Back when I was first starting this whole teaching venture, a

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The Abyss

So, I have to write a four page paper, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font. In this paper, I have to include the question my research plans to address, from whence the question arises, scholarly debates around it, the previous literature on the question, my working hypothesis, sources and methodologies, the importance of the project, talk about the educational benefits to both the research and the project, how I am contributing to the field, how my mentor guides me and supports my research, a detailed description of how the project fits into the bigger picture (of life, I guess), write it for the intelligent generalist, talk about the implications of the work, allow my passion and “voice” to show, and address challenges to the work. …I’m sorry. Please to be giving me a 250 word limit for an abstract. I’ll take that over this any day of the

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